Social Media Measurement: What’s Your Focus?

One of the most commonly asked questions I hear about social media is, “How do you measure it?

I have a love/hate relationship with this question, because if I answer “incorrectly” I could potentially alienate myself from someone I’m trying to help:

  • If I say that measurement is important, but should only be used as a tool – not a focus – I might sound as if I’m trying to avoid responsibility or accountability.
  • If I list off metrics and some tools that can be used to capture them, I feel I’m not doing my full duty or giving a false impression about the value of social media.

While I won’t label one side as right or wrong, I will say measurement should always be based on your goals. After all, that which you focus on becomes what you’re good at.


So, when I get asked the “How do you measure it?” question I usually follow up with, “What’s your focus? What are you hoping to achieve?

What’s your focus?

When the goal is to capture attention, generate awareness, and/or build a reputation, I will usually suggest measuring:

  • Reach
  • # of Friends/Fans/Followers
  • # of Retweets, Reblogs, Shares
  • Growth Rate
  • # of Views
  • # of Blog Visitors
  • # of Subscribers

If the goal is to engage and influence, I’ll likely suggest:

  • Likes
  • Comments
  • Shares
  • Clicked links
  • Mentions
  • Retweets
  • #hashtag users

But that’s not the whole story….

If the goal is to delight fans there are few tools or metrics I can offer up. True, there are many free and paid listening tools available and there are tools out there that claim to be able to measure sentiment (i.e. delight). However, currently no sentiment measuring tool is entirely reliable or accurate (in my opinion) and, even if if you have the most fine-tuned listening station possible, you are still only really getting a piece of the picture.

That’s what I love about social….

One thing I love about social media is if you’re doing it right – you’ll know. If you’re watching, you can see delight spread across your social channels.

Take it from an expert….

Seth Godin wrote something really clever about success measurement that I love:

“I’d have you obsess about things that are a lot more difficult to measure. Things like the level of joy or relief or gratitude your best customers feel. How much risk your team is willing to take with new product launches. How many people recommended you to a friend today…

What are you tracking? If you track concepts, your concepts are going to get better. If you track open rates or clickthrough, then your subject lines are going to get better. Up to you.”

Seth Godin

Seth couldn’t be more correct – especially when it comes to social media. Ultimately, social is about people. It’s about delight, surprise and meaningful interactions that inspire conversation and interaction.

What are the goals for your social presence(s)? What are you measuring?

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